Potential Letdowns for NCAA Teams
LAS VEGAS, NV (The Spread) – Which college basketball teams could suffer a letdown soon and thus, give bettors an advantage? Let’s take a look.
There are letdowns in college basketball because it's normal for an 18-22 year-old student-athlete get excited about beating a rival and then letting down the next game.
A perfect example would be the Indiana Hoosiers, who just beat Wisconsin on Jan. 14 for the first time in nearly seven years. That was such a big win for Tom Crean's program that the fans rushed the floor in Bloomington. They came back to take on Northwestern on Saturday the 18th and lost, 54-47 as a 13-point favorite. The other intriguing factor in this game was Indiana's next opponent-Michigan State. So not only was Indiana coming off their biggest win of the season, they also had rival Michigan State coming up next.
It's easy to follow letdown games if you just track college basketball, but what about teams that have a "big" game coming up on their schedule? In other words, let's say a team is in the upper-tier of their conference and they are playing the best team in the league the next game. But they take on a squad that is inferior, who they are favored against. Are they looking ahead to that next game and will they look past the current game against a sub-par opponent?
That does happen and I'll give you five instances of teams that will likely be favored this weekend against inferior opponents, with a much more important game on the schedule afterwards. Will they overlook that below-average opponent? Towson, who had a five-game winning streak coming into Wednesday night, was facing a Northeastern team at home that was just 5-14 on the season. Towson also had a showdown with 5-0 Delaware on the road on Saturday that could eventually decide the Colonial Athletic Association's top seed in the tournament. Towson, who was a 6.5-point favorite, fell behind by 21 points early, came back to tie the game late and lost at the buzzer, 57-54.
Here are the top five possibilities of a look-ahead game for this weekend and the week ahead:
The LSU Tigers (12-5 SU, 4-7-2 ATS, 3-2 SEC) are off to a pretty good start in the Southeastern Conference. They've won two straight games coming into this Saturday's game against Alabama. They probably won't be a favorite, but they do have a monster matchup on the following Tuesday when they take on Kentucky at home. There's a chance that they look-ahead to facing the Wildcats on Tuesday and overlook Alabama on Saturday. This isn't football where an LSU-Alabama matchup means everything.
Iowa (15-4 SU, 11-6 ATS, 4-2 Big 10) is off to a very good start. They had a three-game winning streak snapped at a red-hot Michigan team on Wednesday, falling by eight as a three-point dog. However, there's a chance that they have a look-ahead game this Saturday when they take on Northwestern. The Wildcats are 3-4 and 10-10 overall and are the team everybody seems to look past. Iowa takes on 18-1 Michigan State on the following Tuesday, Jan. 28, so once again, Northwestern could be that look-ahead opponent.
BYU (13-7 SU, 8-9 ATS, 5-2 West Coast Conference) is competing with St. Mary's and Gonzaga for the top spot in the WCC. On Thursday, Jan. 23, the Cougars take on Portland (3-4 WCC) on the road. That's a definitely a look-ahead game with Gonzaga coming up on Jan. 25. You could also say that their next game against Pacific (1-5 WCC) on Jan. 30 is a let-down games, especially if they beat Gonzaga.
Syracuse (18-0 SU, 9-4-1 ATS, 5-0 ACC) takes on Miami on Saturday and then Wake Forest on Wednesday, Jan. 29. Neither team is exactly a contender for the ACC title. Duke is 4-2 in the ACC and they are picking up steam after a slow start. The Orange take on Duke on Feb. 1 so consider Wake Forest a possible look-ahead game for Syracuse.
California (14-5 SU, 10-8 ATS, 5-1 Pac-12) takes on UCLA on the road on Sunday, Jan. 26. That's a big game, but afterwards, they face Arizona State on Jan. 29, who is currently 2-3 in the Pac-12. After that game, the Golden Bears face top-ranked and undefeated Arizona on Saturday, Feb. 1. The obvious look-ahead game is Arizona State next Thursday.